At Inside Out, our mission is to help a wide range of prisoners make a successful journey from their cells back into society by training and supporting a diverse selection of volunteer mentors to enable them to do so.
We will achieve this through:
- One-to-one relationships
- Co-operative Independence
Our mentoring is at an enhanced level because a diverse and experienced range of volunteer mentors deal with a wide range of mentees, including those with a mental health and substance abuse history. They are also pro-active advocates for their mentees in helping to solve their practical problems.
The one-to-one relationship between offender and voluntary mentor is at the heart of our work. It is established inside the prison and continued after release. Many mentees have little support from family or friends and their major need is for somebody independent to talk to. They value the fact that our mentors are completely voluntary and are not connected with any official body. Our volunteers are from a wide range of ages, races, educations, backgrounds, and are of any religion or none. Our mentees are prisoners who express a desire to turn over a new leaf, regardless of age, history or tendency to recidivism.
Inside the prison there are a variety of options for support, but it is not always easy to access them, nor are they always provided efficiently. The mentor may need to chase up:
- Borough affiliation and Probation/CRCs
- Home Detention Curfew applications
- NOVUS – the body inside the prison responsible for rehabilitation of short-term prisoners, including their preparation for life outside
- Access to support for drug and alcohol abuse via RAPt
- Employment options within the prison
- Legal issues, including outstanding court cases
Outside the prison the mentee is even more likely to need support with the complexities and bureaucracy involved in surviving on the margins of society. The mentor may need to contact:
- Probation or CRC Officer
- Borough Housing Officer and other accommodation providers
- Job Centre Plus
- Drug and alcohol support workers
- GP and other health workers
- Providers of employment or volunteer opportunities
- Education providers
- Solicitors and court officials
- Providers of support for financial issues and debt
All our mentors have two days’ training before being matched with a mentee. They have on-going support sessions and extra training is also available.
Since Inside Out’s inception there has always been a psychotherapist working on the team whose role is to assess risk and offer sessions to offenders with complex needs such as a history of violence, mental health problems or sex offences. They offer therapeutic sessions to a variety of offenders, provide support and extra training to those mentors who are interested in working with these more challenging mentees. In addition to this they work with prison staff and ACCT Assessors offering a Staff Support Service and workshops to develop understanding in complex areas such as trauma.
Operating within the prison system yet retaining full independence we are building synergistic partnerships with other charities and statutory bodies. Independence supercharges the enthusiasm and commitment uniquely provided by volunteers, while co-operation with other providers avoids duplication and enables us to provide coherent services that benefit prisoners.
We are risk assessed and operate as an independent part of the Chaplaincy team, and were highly rated in the recent prison inspection, which said ‘Good resettlement and mentoring services were provided by the Inside Out group’ [HM Inspectorate of Prisons, December 2015]
Our success is confirmed by closely monitoring our own results within the performance of the overall relationship. We are to be formally evaluated by Westminster University in May 2016.
Within the complexities of the evolution of ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ we never lose sight of our purpose which is to help prisoners re-enter positively into society.